Monday, May 25, 2015

Life with Syd, part II

Picking up where we left off in part I, it's now May 2009 and we've had Syd for three years now.


You can see that she has completely taken over the middle of the bed, where she likes to be touching us both throughout the night. Sweet Pea and PG have other spots, changing whenever they feel like it....but not Syd.



This is my view for most meals at home (we eat on the couch) typically. I have THREE beggars patiently hoping for a bit of 'people-food'. And yes, I''m an old softie, as they usually DO get a bite.


Looking back it's hard to remember when she could run and jump and climb up getting her nose above the counter-top...here she's checking out some food Jeannie brought home from the doggie-treat store.



And this is Christmas 2009. Sweet Pea still HATES getting her picture taken. It's hard to tell, but the chin-straps to the Santa-hats have a white beard on it...that's the blob you can see under Sweet Pea and PG.


January, 1010. We were having company, and the babies are in their formal dinner-dress.


Here's ALL my babies taking a nap on the couch. Everybody has their place...except for Daddy.

February of 2010 brought disaster to Sydney. On a Friday afternoon I came home from work, opened up the garage door and they all came charging out like they do every day when I come home. As they were running around the yard, suddenly Syd was sliding along on the grass like an airplane landing with no wheels. After she stopped sliding, she started rolling (sideways like a pipe) down the slight incline in our front yard. I zoomed over to her and scooped her up and ran her inside...she had no movement of any of her legs (and she was freaking out), only the tail was still working. I plopped her on the couch, finished running all the groceries inside the house, left Jeannie a note and took off to the Vet. It wasn't long before I got a call from Jeannie and I told her what happened, and she was there at the Vet with me soon after. We waited as they did what they could, but this was beyond them. They suggested we get her down to Ventura (about 90 miles) to the awesome Veterinary Medical Surgical Group (VMSG), which is basically a VERY high-end emergency room/hospital for pets.

So, we loaded up Syd and took off, getting down there about 9pm. Our Vet had called ahead and they literally came running out with a gurney and took her inside, just like a people emergency room. After getting all our information, the night-duty Vet's preliminary assessment was they needed a Cat Scan (they have their own machine) the following morning to confirm what they suspected, which was a burst neck disk, causing the paralysis. If this was they case, she would already be sedated and they would be ready for immediate surgery to remove the pressure on the spinal cord. We said it sounds good, and being as there was nothing further we could do, came home to await the phone call. Early the next morning we got the call, their prognosis was confirmed and she was prepped and ready, just needing our go-ahead which we gave. We now anxiously waited, knowing she was in a rather complex surgery to remove debris and relieve stress on her spinal cord. A few hours later we got the call that she had come out of surgery and was doing well in recovery. She was expected to be in their ICU for about a week before we could bring her home. She still had no motion in any of her legs, but her tail was spinning like a propeller whenever anybody came near her.




My niece Vicki kindly went to visit Syd while she was in the hospital (it was a 75 mile drive for us, so weekday visits were pretty much out of question so she offered to go sit with her for a bit...here is Syd outside in the grass on a blanket. She has a large bandage on her neck covering the cut and also stabilizing her entire neck (which also skrunches up her neck and head-skin and makes her face seem very serious, which it's not...she's actually super-cheerful). The surgery went in from the front, to do that they moved aside all the important stuff (like her throat, and her aorta and such) to get to the spinal cord where they removed the debris from the burst disc (leaving what was left of the disc in place, it wasn't all gone), and then they 'dremeled' out an area around the spinal cord where it was damaged to relieve the pressure from swelling, which should result in a good recovery of motion in time.



 Here's Syd back at home. Keep in mind she has NO leg motion at this time, we are rehabilitating her every day, moving her legs in walking motions keeping some muscle tone and such. Basically all she can do at this point is lie where we put her. We have to carry her outside to piddle and poo (and we hold her up, and find and squeeze her bladder to get her going, the poo just comes out when we get her in 'position'). But she's always cheerful, and just happy to be alive and home with her family. And we were so happy to have her back! Jeannie had noticed it's so quiet when Syd isn't here, and how depressing the silence is (she barks a LOT, and I mean barks of JOY).


Syd sitting in our front yard with Jeannie.


And here's Syd in the 'recovery crate' with her hospital visit gifts. Vicki got her the hearts blanket, and also the brown monkey toy when she visited...aren't they precious! There's also a little blonde hedgehog toy, and also a giant lady-bug thing Jeannie got her.

Here she is with a new bandage (I was fundraising for LIVESTRONG at the time, hence my marking up of her yellow bandage like one of the wristbands). And speaking of LIVESTRONG wristbands, anybody need some? Like a hundred or so? I have MANY hundreds left over from my 5 years of fundraising for them...not totally sure what to do with them...maybe they will make a recovery?


 And finally, it's March and she is out of the bandage...HOORAY!


 Just LOOK at those big ears! She looks so skinny too, but at least she is standing and walking again!


 Here we are visiting my brothers house...that's Mac, Hannah, my niece Vicki, Syd and bro Greg.


 And here's Mom (also visiting) sitting with her grand-doggie. Syd LOVES to be held!


 Here's the ramp (version 1) I built for Syd to be able to get up on the bed. Later I moved it to the end of the bed rather than on the side. And even later I added a side-rail as her decline began (a few years later) and she was unable to walk up this without falling off.


The babies napping. PG is on the doggie-beds we laid on the floor (Syd uses them as a ramp to get up and down from the couch so she doesn't have to jump down to the hard floor).



 Here you can see the carpet strips we ended up laying down throughout the house, as Syd was unable to maintain footing on the bare ceramic tile. For a few years we had a yellow-brick-road (in all colors) of sorts all over the house just for Syd. She did pretty good with the increased traction.



 It's BEACH DAY for the babies! We drove to a very remote beach at the farthest reaches of Vandenberg AFB (where we are all alone, not another soul intruding on OUR private beach!) and let the babies run. Syd's recovery is pretty much complete..she can stand, walk and run again, although it's all different now than it used to be. It's just a miracle for all of us!


 Jeannie and the HAPPY beach-babies! You can see our private beach behind her..not too shabby!


 And Daddy with the babies. It's actually rather chilly on our private beach...but the babies don't mind.


 Sweet Pea and Syd climbing on the rocks. Exploring is a huge part of beach-day!


 Syd no longer wears a collar....ever. We were told to only use a harness from now on, due to her degenerative spinal condition. And just look at those ears catching the wind!


 What dog doesn't LOVE to stick their head out the window of a car? 
Here's Syd enjoying the drive back from the beach.


And here's all of the babies in the back, trying to help me drive. Actually they are pretty excited as they know we will be stopping at the base Burger King for post-beach junior whoppers, which they LOVE!


 And suddenly it's December, 2010. Here's a pic from our local park where we take them a few times a week to run and explore. They just LOVE the park! I used this picture for the Christmas card.


Here Syd has once-AGAIN ate some inedible stuff, and just had her second emergency-stomach operation to remove said items (complete intestinal blockage it's called, and it would kill her untreated). This shot is sitting in the grass outside the 24-hour emergency clinic (it happened on a weekend, meaning it cost MORE).


Jeannie and Syd post surgery napping on the couch. Syd was SO GREAT at snuggling!


 You can see the ramp now on the foot of the bed in it's new position. The babies LOVE the bed! I had to remove a few posts from the foot-board (I made the bed, so it was easy to modify for the ramp).


And the babies all on the couch. They seemed to hang out together a LOT, even though PG acts like she hates Syd (she had already been with Sweet Pea for a few years before we brought Syd home, and she acted like she never forgave us, though you see them together all the time).



Boy do I feel loved! The babies just LOVE to lay all over me, and it's a GREAT feeling!


Christmas-time, 2011. Here's Syd and PG with my Dad.

 
 Don't know what Syd did here, but she's in the crate of shame for some reason.  I can't help but wonder if this wasn't after ANOTHER stomach surgery? I believe that is the case...as she ended up having THREE emergency blockage stomach surgeries. We called her "the Great White shark" for 2 reasons...one is she would eat ANYTHING (not kidding...some of the things they removed over the 3 surgeries was a half a tennis ball, multiple doggie-toy squeakers, a big chunk of rubber, the ripped off top of a plastic water bottle, rubber bands...and I'm sure there's other stuff I'm forgetting). The 2nd reason you found out if you EVER held up a piece of food for her to come 'up' to get. She had terrible aim and would snap your fingers (and you would cry...she snapped VERY HARD, not trying to hurt you, she just wanted to make sure the food didn't 'get away'). I heard great white sharks attacked from below with a crushing attack...that's how she eats food you hold up. Just don't do it is my warning to everybody.


Sweet Pea and Syd napping on the couch.


 Here's all the babies on the couch, notice how HAPPY PG is for some reason 
(remember, she HATES Syd). Not sure which surgery this was for PG...but you can tell as she has spots shaved on her front legs (likely IV sites).


Another one of my favorite shots of Syd. After her baths she was always cold, so here we wrapped her in a blanket. Her fur was always SO thin that she was always shivering after she got wet. This shot reminds me of the movie "ET" (showing my age here). I recall a scene when the ET looked a lot like this.


Syd begging for some tidbits of food. She's standing on the tile, but you can see the rug behind her that she stands on to eat (the rug-side is her bowl), otherwise her left rear leg slides out from under her and she falls down.

This takes us through 2012, and there's simply WAY too many pictures for me to finish this up in two posts.

I'm off to Sunnyvale for a month of work tomorrow. It's Monday, Memorial day as I type and post. Hopefully the holiday has given you time to reflect on our lives, and how very fortunate we are to live here in the good ol' USA, and the price that was paid by our soldiers throughout our country's history for us to enjoy the freedoms that we do.

Happy Memorial Day and THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH to all the fallen and wounded soldiers and their families!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Tour of California Stage 4 goes through MY BACKYARD!

And when I say "BACKYARD", I obviously mean that FIGURATIVELY, not LITERALLY ...as my backyard would be pretty congested with 160 something racers, oodles of team cars, officials, photo-motos, etc.... (and there'd likely be some serious cyclist/dog interactions and eventually lawsuits), but you know what I mean... they were racing on MY ROADS (and yes, I do actually own them all, I only let cars use them cuz I'm a nice guy)! I don't think there was even a portion of the race today that I haven't ridden..well, MAYBE the finishing straight in Avila I guess...can't recall if I've ever been on that bit.And yes, they passed right thru Santa Maria again, just like they did TEN YEARS AGO in the inaugural race (won by a certain someone who still kind'a owes me some money). That year my brother Greg drove up and we caught the peleton in Guadalupe at the Sprint Point, then we tried but BARELY missed them at the Clark Ave/Bradley Ave intersection (about 2 miles from my house), and then we drove down to Santa Barbara and caught them coming down off of Rt 154 onto State Street right at the 90 degree corner. It was all SUPER EXCITING to me as it was the first Pro cycling event I'd ever witnessed first-hand.

This year the stage-start was in Pismo Beach and went south on Hwy 1, once-again right thru Guadalupe for a Sprint Point, then continued south on Hwy 1 and again turned East on Clark Ave, out to Dominion, Foxen Canyon, turned North on Tepesquet Canyon  (that is most DEFINITELY my HOME TURF) for a KOM at the top, then down Tep and West on Rt 166 to Thompson, Los Berros, up thru Arroyo Grande and eventually on to Corbett Canyon (these are ALL roads I ride all the time with my Main Street Cycles club), to finally finish in Avila Beach.

My basic plan for the day was to catch the peleton as many times as possible while still making it to the finish. To accomplish this, I carefully laid out a SUPER detailed and STRATEGIC plan. My detailed plan was to get to the start at Pismo, and then wing it all day and see where I can catch them. I had kind'a sort'a planned on making it up to the top of Tepesquet for the KOM, thinking I'd come in from the north side and then follow the race back to the 101, and while they work their way around I'd zoom to Avila for the finish.

So...how well did my incredibly sophisticated and planned to the minutest detail evil plan work you ask? Well, let me tell you. Kind'a sort'a. I nailed the start, and had a GREAT view as the racers gathered and finally began, right at the stroke of 11:30am.

Here they are, all lined up moments before the start. That's Cav in the Sprinters green jersey, front row, left of center, and looking to his left (talking to the rider in white/black and red, tho I don't know who that is, other than he's a Trek rider).

And here they go...a few riders start in FRONT of the rope line, I guess they didn't feel like making it all the way to the back of the bus. I didn't know they did that, as this is the first start I've seen in person.

 Got Cav again (got lucky with this shot, as I basically just had my camera taking shots as fast as it could).

These were my best shots of the start in Pismo Beach...pretty cool actually. And a perfect day for racing...I'd say the daytime high was in the mid 60's and sunny. Not too shabby at all!

I then zoomed back to my car (probably less than a half mile away and right off the freeway), loaded the bike and took off. On a whim I passed the 166 east exit as I THOUGHT I had a shot at getting to the sprint point in Guadalupe. However, I forgot how far Guadalupe is from the freeway (and how many red lights there are, AND how many SLOW drivers there are). I missed the peleton by about 2 minutes. So I then got back to my car and fought my way BACK to the 101. As I was close to jumping on the freeway I was passing a McDonalds...and thought to myself "self, we're HUNGRY and it will be a while before we get a chance at food again"...so I zipped inside and got a quarter pounder combo. I have to say I haven't ate at a McDonalds in ages...it was OK, but nothing to write home about.

I then made a beeline for the north side of Tepesquet Rd where it intersects with rt 166. Got there and parked the car right about 1pm, which was right about the FASTEST projected time they could be coming onto Tepesquet Canyon on the south-side (about 15miles away). I had no way to know where they were, so I unloaded my bike and took off for the top (about 5 miles). The first 2 miles are sort of flat, with the final 3 being the 1000' climb. I was about a mile from the top when the Highway Patrol moto's started coming by, telling me to get off the road. RATS. So I stopped, and got ready. I walked my bike a bit further up the road, looking for a vantage point of the riders coming down. I couldn't see any action, so walked a bit further. More moto's were coming down every few minutes, so I figured they must be close (no helicopter in sight yet tho). I waited and waited...yep. About FIFTEEN MINUTES before they came down. I could have WALKED that final mile to the top, let-alone ride it. Darn those CHP guys...I'm on a bike...I can be off the road in moments. OH well.

I did have a pretty awesome vantage point where I finally stopped tho...just far enough away from a turn to get a great view and plenty of time for some pictures. I also was shooting video at the same time with my little Sony Action-Cam that I got for videos of biking and such.

Here's the breakaway coming around the turn, moving pretty quick!

And as they were passing me...got lucky again with this one as they were really moving!

And not too awfully far behind, the peleton. That's Cav again leading the main group in the chase...it was just a Cavendish-day for me somehow..like my camera got a laser-lock on him or something.

After they had all passed, and all the moto's and vehicles had passed (of which there were a LOT) I jumped on my bike and raced to my car. Loaded the bike up again, and jumped in the line of cars and trucks. Rt 166 had been blocked for the race, and there was a pretty good queue but at least we were moving. The CHP seems pretty adept at the rolling road-blocks giving minimal interference to traffic. As we finally were nearing Santa Maria again, I could see the Helo and could tell the peleton wasn't really that far away...they were still on the east of the freeway, heading for Los Berros Rd. I jumped on the 101 and was making really good time heading north towards Avila Beach.

As I was nearing the Los Berros overpass I could see the Helo on my right and there they were...the entire field on Thompson Rd, getting very close to the overpass. I was now barely ahead of them! However, the CHP had the Los Berros exit blocked (RATS), but I could have actually jumped off onto the on-ramp and parked (as there was no cars entering the freeway as there WERE no cars...the road was blocked for the race). However, there were CHP EVERYWHERE...and they'd probably frown on me if I did that sort of move...so I bypassed the chance to take pics of the peleton as they crossed under the freeway and continued my way towards Avila.

As I got to Avila Beach the CHP already had the Avila Drive exit blocked...so I got off on the next exit: San Luis Bay Drive....and made my way BACK to Avila Drive, and parked about 200 yards from the blocked exit (does that make sense? Block the exit but let me drive right up to it from the OTHER SIDE?) No biggee...I had a great escape route...the on-ramp was right there close to my car. Got out the bike for the last time and started riding...and almost right away there was the 4k marker on the side of the road. Quickly the 3k, then 2k, and then the Kenda Tires 1k to-go Arch over the road. I came around another corner smack-dab into mayhem and madness...the finishing straight-away. There were OODLES and OODLES of people, barricades, all the usual stuff. I made my way up to about 50 yards from the finish line and found a good spot to stash my bike and backpack (I had shoes with me, so I didn't have to stand/walk around in cycling shoes).

Here's my view of the finish line...not too shabby at all!

And here's looking the other way: down the finishing straight-away. An uphill finish...it's steeper than it looks!

I had timed all this pretty good for such a loosey-goosey plan...we had loudspeakers everywhere, and the announcers were calling the race. Soon enough they were at the 4k mark (already on Avila Drive)...and moving VERY QUICKLY as you would expect! Sagan was now in charge of the screaming peleton(per the announcer), and the crowd started to go wild! When the front of the group came around the final turn onto the straight-away, the noise of the crowd was DEAFENING! The announcers were SCREAMING and I could barely hear them (that's loud-speakers in the last picture about 10 feet from me on the right side..and when I say "loud-speakers", I'm not kidding. Anybody even CLOSE to them likely can't hear much tonight I'm pretty sure).

Here's my only decent shot of the finish-madness. The front end is clear of the corner and accelerating HARD towards the line. They were moving quite fast, and my next (and final shot) of the front was looking too far to right (hey...I'm holding my camera up over the people in front of me pushing the button over and over having NO Idea what shots I'm getting), AND... while I'm doing that, I'm also holding my video camera in my left hand). I didn't get any shots to my left of the actual finish, as I kept taking shots of the main field coming by. But I do have video of the finish (I think, as I swung that around while still taking pictures to the left), and I'll include some links to my video's when I finally get it all processed and uploaded (most-likely to YouTube). Video files are HUGE and take awhile to load onto my computer (I film in 1080p).

All I really know about the finish (that I could make out through the pandemonium of the crowd and announcers) was that Sagan had won. I stuck around a bit for the podium, but I was off to the side and couldn't really see much, so I took off back for my car. As I was loading my bike getting ready to head home, I saw a BUNCH of the racers heading back on their bikes towards the Pismo Beach area...along with lots and lots of team cars. The Team Busses were all still back at Avila near the finish, and I have no idea what their plan was. I jumped into the stream of cars and we jumped on the 101 headed south. I was somehow right behind two Trek Factory team cars loaded with bikes and wheels (I could see the poor mechanic in the back seat of the 2nd car, surrounded by wheels...it looked like he barely had enough room to BREATH back there!) I hadn't realized that the Trek team was sponsored by VW...they were driving TDI Golf 4-door mini-wagons (the TDI's are the diesels, like both Jeannie and I drive)! VERY COOL CARS! I stuck behind them like glue, and boy where they in a hurry...I guess they are heading to the next stop ahead of the riders so the mechanics can get busy prepping the bikes for tomorrow.

And that was my day. All in all a pretty fun way to spend it I must say. Saw the start AND finish of the same stage for the first time, and saw them two other times besides that. Not too shabby at all. Sadly, it's back to work tomorrow for me...but I have to admit today was a GREAT way to spend a sick-day (cough cough...er, I mean, I felt HORRIBLE ALL DAY...yeah, that's what I meant to say!)

Now I'll have to go to Velo News to read about the stage and see what I missed.

Cheers!